Website accessibility
Show or hide the menu bar
Main home
Section home
|
Content
Calendar
Links
|
Log in
|
Home

Concordat Watch - Colombia - content area

Concordat (1973) : text

When the legal framework of Colombia changed and began to emphasise human rights, this concordat was found lacking. So much for the Vatican claim that concordats are human rights treaties....

 This concordat could not be challenged under the 1887 Constitution because this had been expressedly designed to accommodate an earlier concordat. However, the new 1991 Constitution, with its emphasis on human rights and the establishment of a Constitutional Court the same year, finally permitted rulings against many articles of the 1973 concordat.

The Concordat, the court noted, did not recognize a great number of international human rights norms in matters such as (1) religious liberty; (2) equality of rights with respect to marriage (both during the marriage and in dissolution); (3) freedom to teach; (4) the autonomy, rights, and liberties of indigenous peoples; and (5) the right of military personnel to receive religious assistance according to their beliefs. The Concordat was also problematic in that it granted aid to educational centers of the Catholic Church.

Source: Decision No. C-027/93. Hoyos, Viviane A Morales "Religious liberty and cultural and ethnic pluralism in the Colombian constitution of 1991". Brigham Young University Law Review, 1999, pp. 3, 5.
 

Concordat between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia

[Signed: 12 July 1973; ratified: 2 July 1975.]

The Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, intent on ensuring fruitful collaboration for the greater good of the Colombian nation and prompted by the desire to take account of new developments established as much within the Catholic Apostolic and Roman Church as in the Republic of Colombia since 1887, the date when the Concordat was signed by both these parties, have led the same to draw up a new Concordat to be the basis for regulating future relations between the Catholic Church and the State of Colombia, founded on mutual deference and respect for each other.

To that end, His Holiness Pope Paul VI has appointed his Plenipotentiary — His Excellency Archbishop Angelo Palmas, Titular Archbishop of Vibiana, Apostolic Nuncio in Bogotà.

His Excellency the President of Colombia, Doctor Misael Pastrana Borrero, has appointed his Plenipotentiary — His Excellency Dr. Alfredo Vazquez Carrizosa, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Having exchanged their full powers and found them to be in good and due form, these plenipotentiaries have agreed on the following articles:

I. The State, observing the traditional Catholic ethos within the Colombian nation, considers the Catholic Religion, the Apostolic and Roman Church as the fundamental element for the public good and for the integral development of the nation’s community.

The State guarantees the Catholic Church and all who belong to it full enjoyment of their religious rights, without prejudice to the legitimate freedom of other religious faiths and their respective members, and likewise to all citizens.

II. The Catholic Church shall retain its full freedom and independence from civil authority and consequently may freely and fully exercise its spiritual authority and ecclesiastical jurisdiction in governing and administering itself in accordance with its own laws.

III. Canon Law is independent of the civil law and does not constitute a part of it, however it will be respected by the authorities of the Republic.

IV. The State recognizes as true and proper the legal status of the Catholic Church, as well as that of Dioceses, religious communities and other ecclesiastical institutions to which Canon Law grants legal status through its respective legitimate authorities.

Ecclesiastical institutions granted legal status conferred by an act of a legitimate authority in accordance with Canon Law shall likewise enjoy the same recognition.  For the civil recognition of this status to come into effect the production of a certificate attesting to their legitimate status will suffice.

V. The Church, in accordance with its mission responsibility to serve the human person, will continue to cooperate in the development of the community itself in the same way through its institutions and pastoral services, and in particular through education, training, the promotion of social and other activities for the public good.

VI. The state and the church will cooperate in the diligent and effective promotion of human and social conditions for indigenous people and people living in marginal areas subject to special canonical arrangements.  A Permanent Commission comprising officials appointed by the national government and prelates chosen by the Bishops’ Conference and regulated by mutual agreement will draw up plans for the development, monitoring, and the gradual implementation of those plans adopted.

The functions of the Permanent Commission shall be carried out without prejudice to state authorities and shall do so within bounds appropriate and proper for making plans and without the Church having to undertake activities alien to its nature and mission.

VII. The State recognizes the full civil effects of marriage celebrated according to the rules of Canon Law.  For effective recognition of the same, the competent ecclesiastical authority shall provide an authentic copy of the marriage act to the respective State official who shall transcribe it in the Civil Register of marriages .

VIII. Cases having to do with the nullity and dissolution of canonical marriages, including those to do with the dispensation of marriage sanctioned but not consummated, are the sole responsibility of the ecclesiastical courts and the Congregation of the Apostolic See.

The decisions and rulings in cases when they are deemed final and enforceable in accordance with canon law will be forwarded to the High Court of the District Judiciary within the appropriate territorial jurisdiction, which will issue the decree for the execution of the civil effects and order them to be recorded in the Civil Register.

IX. The High-ranking Contracting Parties shall agree that the causes of separation of spouses bound by canonical marriages are dealt with by the state judiciary, in the first instance by the relative High Court and in the second instance by a court attached to the Supreme Court.

At the request of either spouse the relevant lawsuit shall be postponed in the first instance and for one occasion only for a period of thirty days to facilitate conciliatory and pastoral measures to be taken by the Church, barring the Court’s jurisdiction to adopt any precautionary measures that are deemed appropriate.  After that time has elapsed the respective court will resume its deliberations.

X. 1. The State guarantees the Catholic Church the freedom to establish, organise and direct under its own authority ecclesiastical centres of education of all levels and all academic disciplines and specialist areas of teaching, without prejudice to the right of inspection and supervision belonging to the State.

2. The Catholic Church will retain its autonomy to establish, organise and direct faculties, institutes of ecclesiastical studies, seminaries and establishments for religious training.  State recognition of courses of study and the conferring of qualifications by these centres shall be the subject of subsequent regulations.

XI. In order to ensure the right of families to choose freely centres of education for their own children, the State will contribute in equal measure with funds from the national budget towards the maintenance of Catholic institutions.

XII. To implement the right of Catholic families to give their children a religious education commensurate with their faith, courses of study at primary and secondary schools shall include the formal teaching of religion and religious training according to the Magisterium of the Church.  In order to implement this right it is the responsibility of the competent ecclesiastical authority to provide courses of study, approve the religious texts used and supervise the teaching.  The civil authority shall recognize the teaching qualifications granted by the competent ecclesiastical authority for the teaching of religion.

The State shall foster at the level of higher education the creation of religious institutes or departments of higher religious studies so that Catholic students have the opportunity to further their education alongside their religious faith.

XIII. As a service to communities in marginal areas in need of temporary special canonical arrangements, the Church will collaborate within the field of formal education through contracts to develop appropriate official programmes of study and to provide for the circumstances and specific needs of each location.  Such contracts stipulated with the National Government will comply with criteria previously agreed between it and the Bishops’ Conference in accordance with Article VI.

XIV. The right to appoint archbishops and bishops belongs exclusively to the Roman Pontiff.  Before making such an appointment of an archbishop or a residential bishop, or a coadjutor with the right of succession, nominations which will affect the Colombian people, the Holy See will inform the President of the Republic on behalf of the person chosen in order to ascertain whether there are any objections of a civil or political nature.  It will be assumed that these do not exist if they are not made known within thirty days.  This protocol will be observed by both parties with the greatest diligence and circumspection.

XV. The Holy See shall establish new ecclesiastical boundaries and modify existing ones as it deems appropriate for the better implementation of the Church’s mission.  To this end, prior notice will be given to the Government in accordance with any right and fitting directions received from it.

XVI. The Holy See agrees to set up with all haste possible jurisdictions for its mission by way of dioceses in accordance with any developments in regions as befits its diocesan pastoral needs.

XVII. The spiritual and pastoral care of members of the Armed Forces will be made through Military Chaplains according to the norms and regulations provided for this purpose by the Holy See and in agreement with the government.

XVIII. The clergy and religious persons shall not be compelled to assume public duties inconsistent with their ministry and religious profession and will also be exempt from military service.

XIX. Civil lawsuits involving clerics and religious persons with regard to property and secular rights of ecclesiastical juridical persons, and likewise criminal proceedings against such people, for contraventions and offences unrelated to their Church ministry and falling within the Laws of the Republic shall be referred to the courts.  However, exceptions shall apply in cases of criminal proceedings against the Bishops and those of equivalent rank in ecclesiastical law, who fall under the sole jurisdiction of the Apostolic See.

XX. In the event of criminal suits against clergy and religious persons, in the first instance jurisdiction shall fall to Senior Judges or whoever stands in for them, without recourse to a jury, and in second instance to the High Courts.  At the outset of the case the fact will be communicated to the appropriate Ordinary, who shall not stand in the way of the proceedings.  Judgements will not be publicised.  Should the accused be arrested and held in detention before and during court proceedings, that person may not be incarcerated in communal cells, but if convicted in the final instance, ordinary rules relating to the execution of sentences shall be applied.

XXI. Officials of judicial and executive departments of state shall offer their services, if necessary, in implementing measures of ecclesiastical courts in order to protect the rights of people who might be injured by an incomplete or non-existing provision of such measures.

XXII. The unlawful exercise of jurisdiction or ecclesiastical functions by those without a canonical mission to do so, having been officially informed by the competent ecclesiastical official to the relevant functionary of the State, will be considered as a usurpation of public functions.

XXIII. The Catholic Church and other juridical persons referred to in Article IV of this Concordat have the option to purchase, possess, administer and dispose freely of movable and immovable property within the norms established by Colombian law for all citizens and their property and foundations and their rights will be no less inviolable than those belonging to other natural and legal persons.

XXIV. Church property will be subject to taxation in the same way and to the same extent as that of any other individual.  However, in view of their specific purpose exceptions are made for buildings used for worship, the diocesan curia, bishops’ and parish houses and seminaries.

Legal provisions with respect of taxes set down for all other institutions of a similar nature shall apply to all Church property used for the public good and non-profit-making and to other juridical persons as set out in Article IV of this Concordat.

XXV. The State recognizes the Church’s right to seek contributions from and offered freely by the faithful for divine worship, the livelihood of its ministers and for other purposes of its own mission.

XXVI. The High-ranking Contracting Parties shall standardise financial obligations assumed by the State under the Concordat of 1887 and the Convention on Missions of 1953.  Consequently they will settle upon the amount by agreement that duly meets the said obligations.  It will also likewise set the level of the State contribution for the creation of new dioceses and for the support of the same which are situated in areas prior to its mission.  The state will give the opportunity to institutions that receive the so-called nominal revenue to redeem it.

XXVII. The State shall guarantee the Church the right to own and administer its own cemeteries, subject to official supervision with regard to hygiene and public order.  Cemeteries subject to civil authorities may be used by the Catholic Church for exercising its ministry with regard to Catholic burials.

XXVIII. For the protection and promotion of the cultural heritage of Colombia, the Church and State will cooperate with compiling a national inventory of religious art, which will include monuments, religious objects of worship, archives, libraries and other objects of historical or artistic value worthy of note that are jointly maintained, restored and exhibited and used for the purpose of public education.

XXIX. The High-Ranking Contracting Parties shall proceed by amicable, mutual agreement when enforcing and also implementing the provisions contained in this Concordat and resolving any problems relating to its interpretation and application.

XXX. This Concordat, except provisions set out in Article XXVI, leaves without force and effect that which the High-Ranking Contracting Parties signed in Rome on 31 December 1887, approved by Law 35 of 1888 and the following agreements: the Convention supplementary to the Concordat, signed in Rome on 20 July 1892, approved by Law 34 of 1892; the agreements derived from the exchange of notes number 27643 of February 27 1924 headed by Secretary of State of His Holiness to the Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Colombia to the Holy See and the response to this of 10June 1924, which gave rise to Law 54 of 1924; and the Convention on Missions, signed in Bogota on 29 January 1953.

At the same time any legal provisions and decrees which may be in any way be incompatible with this Concordat are renounced.

XXXI. This Concordat was signed in duplicate and in Italian and Spanish, both texts are equally authenticated and certified.

XXXII. This Concordat will enter into force upon the exchange of the instruments of ratification by the High-Ranking Contracting Parties.
To certify this, the undersigned Plenipotentiaries have added their signature to this Concordat in the city of Bogota, the Republic of Colombia, on the tenth of July one thousand nine hundred and seventy-three.


The Final Protocol

At the time of signing the Concordat today between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, the Plenipotentiaries of the High-Ranking Contracting Parties make the following statements that form an integral part of the Concordat itself:

With regard to Article VII

1. In accordance with the law of the Colombian state the registration of a canonical marriage that has not been recorded in the civil register at the time it is celebration may still be registered at the request of either spouse or whoever has a legitimate interest in the said wedding.  To this end, a certified copy of the relevant act of marriage by the Church may simply be submitted.  The death of one or both spouses will not be an obstacle to such registration.

2. The civil effects of canonical marriage, duly entered in the civil register, shall start with effect from the date of that marriage celebration.

With regard to Article VIII

The Republic of Colombia recognizes the exclusive jurisdiction of ecclesiastical authorities as regards the canonical aspects of the Privilege of the Faith [Pauline Privilege].

With regard to its civil effects, these will take into account the provisions of the judiciary and Colombian civil legislation both in terms of the rights acquired by the spouses as well as the rights of persons legally protected the marriage partnership.

With regard to Article IX

The provision of this article as to the causes of separation of canonical marriage will be decided in the High Court and Supreme Court of Colombia will not prevent that in future the Colombian state might establish a special appeal to hear and judge cases concerning family law and might have an equivalent status to that of the organs mentioned.


Exchange of Notes to set a deadline for the Concordat

Bogota, 17 July 1974

D.M. 583

To His Most Reverend Excellency, Monsignor Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Angelo Palmas, Bogotà

Your Excellency,

As Your Excellency is aware, the Concordat signed 12 July 1973 between the Republic of Colombia and the Holy See has already been given approval by the Senate of the Republic and is be discussed in future sessions of the National Congress by the House of Representatives, regarding the effects of Article 120, n. 20, of the National Constitution.

The National Government, bearing in mind the circumstances that are expressed as following and the keen desire to contribute to its approval, considers it appropriate to suggest to the Holy See, through this, that the two High-Ranking Contracting Parties shall by mutual agreement fix a term of ten years from the date of ratifying the Concordat to initiate the review and any eventual change to the same instrument within the harmonious relations that ought to reign between the Catholic Church and the State of Colombia.

Please kindly to convey to Your Excellency the Holy See’s views of the Government set out above, in the sense that the positive reply of Your Excellency and the note sent today, are, if necessary, an expression of mutual willingness to proceed to a conclusion and within the period mentioned above.

I take this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the testimony of my highest and distinguished esteem.

Alfredo Vázquez Carrizosa
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Bogota, 18 July 1974

Excellency,

I have the honour of acknowledging the receipt of Your Excellency’s note, reference number N. DM-583 of 17 July 1974, which literally reads:

“Your Excellency,

As Your Excellency is aware, the Concordat signed 12 July 1973 between the Republic of Colombia and the Holy See has already been given approval by the Senate of the Republic and will be discussed in future sessions of the National Congress by the House of Representatives, regarding the effects of Article 120, n. 20, of the National Constitution.

The National Government, bearing in mind the circumstances that are expressed as following and the keen desire to contribute to its approval, considers it appropriate to suggest to the Holy See, through this, that the two High-Ranking Contracting Parties shall by mutual agreement fix a term of ten years from the date of ratifying the Concordat to initiate the review and any eventual change to the same instrument within the harmonious relations that ought to reign between the Catholic Church and the State of Colombia.

Please kindly to convey to Your Excellency the Holy See’s views of the Government set out above, in the sense that the positive reply of Your Excellency and the note sent today, are, if necessary, an expression of mutual willingness to proceed to a conclusion and within the period mentioned above.

I take this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the testimony of my highest and distinguished esteem.”

I am therefore pleased to inform Your Excellency that the Holy See accepts the proposals contained in the Note and that, in agreement with what is suggested in that note, this reply constitute an expression of mutual willingness on behalf of the Holy See and the National Government of Colombia to proceed in the manner and terms set out above.

I take this opportunity to renew to Your Excellency the testimony of my highest and distinguished esteem.

Archbishop Angelo Palmas
Apostolic Nuncio


Account of the exchange of instruments of ratification to the Concordat

His Eminence Cardinal Jean Villot, Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and His Excellency Dr Antonio Rocha Alvira, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Colombia to the Holy See, were gathered in the hall of the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican with the intention of exchanging their respective instruments of ratification for the Concordat and the final protocol, signed between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia in Bogota, 12 July 1973, after presenting their full powers and finding them in good and due form, have submitted the original documents of ratification issued by the High-ranking Contracting Parties, and have proceeded to read those documents and having them considered to be accurate and in order, they carried out the exchange in the usual form, exchanging them with each other.

The undersigned on the strength of the plenipotentiary powers they hold and observing the express instructions of His Holiness Pope Paul VI and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Colombia, Doctor Alfonso Lopez Michelsen, acting in accordance with the provisions of Article 29 the Concordat of 1973, declare at the point of exchange that:

a) Within thirty days from the present exchange of instruments of ratification there will be a meeting in Bogotà of the Permanent Commission mentioned in Article Six of the Concordat of 1973 with the aim of establishing the criteria to be met by any contracts, pursuant to article thirteen of the Concordat, the Government of Colombia may come to an agreement with the ordinary competent in the field of formal education in their territories.

b) The Permanent Committee shall have completed the tasks as set out above not later than 31 July 1975 to determine which educational centres are not provided for in the service contracts with in the field of formal education in order that the civil authorities shall take on the direct management of these centres by 31 December 1975.

c) The Government of Colombia shall conclude before 31 December 1975 the necessary contracts with regard to the field of formal education with the ordinary responsible for those educational centres, the object of a contractual agreement.

d) Until 31 December 1975, while no contracts are signed in the field of formal educational the civilian authorities shall assume the direct supervision of educational centres that are still under the ecclesiastical direction, we shall continue to apply the previous financial arrangements and the respective funding allocated in the Colombian National Budget Estimate for education in the former territories of the mission for the school year a) and b) as well as funds earmarked by the Colombian Family Welfare Institute for school refectories and the maintenance of some boarding schools, will paid through the Attorney General of Missions, which is extended until that date.

e) Aid for teaching and religious education according to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, as set out in educational curriculums for primary and secondary schools in accordance with article twelve of the Concordat, is not mandatory for Catholic students who are under legal age and whose representatives have requested an exemption from classes in the Catholic religion and for those Catholic students of legal age who request the same, in accordance with the principle of religious freedom enshrined in the conclusions of Vatican II and in the rules of the Political Constitution of Colombia.

f) In accordance with Article nine of the Concordat of 1973,  cases of separation of spouses married by Canon Law, from the date this Treaty comes into force, shall be referred to the jurisdiction of state courts, however, this means that cases brought before Church authorities before this treaty comes into force shall follow the normal course before the said authorities in virtue of the principle of rights acquired, unless the parties request that the case be referred to the jurisdiction of the competent judicial authorities of the State of Colombia.

g) In relation to paragraph two of the Final Protocol with reference to article eight, the Government of Colombia declares and the Holy See takes note that Catholic marriage celebrated with the dispensation of the Privilege of Faith [Pauline Privilege] cannot have civil effects, in case of no civil freedom existing between the contracting parties, in accordance with the provisions of civil legislation and Colombian law.  The High Court of the District Judiciary has territorial jurisdiction of the district court, once having ascertained the status of the spouses with regard to their freedom, shall order the registration of canonical marriages in the civil registry so as to give them full civil effects.

The undersigned affirm the reciprocal desire of the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia that has led them to define the course of the next decade, following the Concordat’s coming into effect, to promote the review and possible modification of the same instrument in harmony that should characterize relations between the Catholic Church and the Colombian State, the agreement transpires from the Exchange of Notes of July 1974 between His Most Excellent Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Doctor Alfredo Vázquez Carrizosa, and his Excellency Monsignor Angelo Palmas, Apostolic Nuncio of His Holiness in Bogotà.

In witness thereof is the document in duplicate, signed and sealed with their personal stamps, in
the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the tenth day of the month of July, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-five.

Signed: 12 July 1973; ratified: 2 July 1975.

 



Source:

[Spanish original] Concordato entre la República de Colombia y la Santa Sede + Protocolo Final + Scambio di note + Acta de Canje
[Italian copy] Concordato fra la Santa Sede e la Repubblica di Colombia + Protocollo Finale + Scambio di note + Acta de Canje
(1973-07-12, 1975-07-02) AAS 67 (1975) 421-434

 Italian copy, which is no longer posted online by the University of Florence, translated by Dr. David Holohan


Go to Notanant menuWebsite accessibility

Access level: public

This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site you agree to our use of cookies: OK